Citation Recurrent Training – Back in the Box

I couldn’t believe that 2 years passed so quickly, it was time for my second CJ3 Citation Recurrent Training – CE525S. I completed my initial at ProFlight in December 2013, wrote a blog about the experience, and had flown the CJ3 almost 300 hours in the past 2 years including some great trips to Alaska for business, add my Seaplane rating, and all over the lower 48 states.

CJ3 Fl450 Florida Panhandle
Flying the CJ3 over the Florida Panhandle at 45,000 feet (FL450)

Citation Recurrent Training with Tru ProFlight

Since that time ProFlight was acquired by Textron Aviation and their new company – Tru Simulation + Training , which also purchased two simulator manufacturers. Same great program and staff, however the acquisition has allowed them to expand, adding additional pilot and maintenance training courses under Textron Aviation as well as the establishment of a new training center near Tampa Florida. Proflight is now Tru ProFlight Training. Occasionally I also help as an SIC for some clients working on their crew – CE525 – ratings at Tru ProFlight.

NextGen CJ3 Flight Training Device (FTD)

One advantage of being a Tru ProFlight customer is the ability to visit during the year and utilize their Citation CJ3 NextGen Flight Training Device (FTD). While I used that opportunity a few times during the year, I knew that a full recurrent would test my flying abilities and give me a chance to update my skills, especially on Abnormal/Emergency procedures. This FTD is unique among the other FTDs that I’ve used. The ‘cockpit’ couples full tactile experience with many of the knobs and switches a pilot uses in the aircraft (e.g. autopilot, FMSs, trim, flaps, throttle) with touch screens for some other functions. By coupling this capability with full controls, and a wrap around visual system, the pilot experiences almost the same functions as in the aircraft and sim. The feeling is so close to the actual aircraft, that when I trained my wife to land the CJ3 in the NextGen she started to aim for our hangar at Montgomery (MYF) at high speed – I had to pause the FTD before she ran into the CJ3 I fly in real life! I forgot I was in the FTD.

The Tru Proflight CJ3 FTD
The Tru Proflight CJ3 NextGen FTD for Citation Recurrent Training

In order to fly Pilot In Command (PIC) of a turbojet aircraft, you are required to have completed a flight proficiency check per FAR 61.58 within the previous 12 months in that type (e.g. CE525 for the Citation CJ3). If you have multiple type ratings, you can alternate the required Proficiency Check between models each year, however you must train specifically in each model within 2 years to fly as PIC. Technically I could wait another year since my currency is active in multiple jets, however I believe that training is extremely important, and Tru ProFlight offers a great CJ3 Citation recurrent training program in Carlsbad California, close to my home in San Diego.

Learning Management System (LMS)

The first item you receive after enrolling in the Tru ProFlight Citation CJ3 Recurrent course is a link, and login, to their online LMS. The LMS is divided into a number of chapters, and pages, with a quiz at the completion of each chapter.

ProFlight CJ3 LMS
ProFlight CJ3 LMS

Each chapter includes narrative text, audio, and animations for each topics. The animated system diagrams are very cool, offering clients the opportunity to see various operations, e.g. fuel flow, under normal and abnormal conditions. If you are like me, you don’t remember everything about a system when first viewing it, and reviewing abnormal conditions is easy when you can click a valve closed and see the result — all on your computer.

CJ3 Fuel System Lesson
CJ3 Fuel System Lesson

After about 15-20 hours of pre-study using the LMS on your own, when you first visit ProFlight you take a review quiz to complete the ground portion of your Recurrent. With that complete, now the fun starts!

The Simulator

Proflight utilizes some of the latest Level D simulators. The one I used was built by Opinicus, which was also acquired by Textron and is now a business unit of Tru Simulation + Training.

On to the Training Flights

With access to the CJ3 NextGen FTD, I could practice by myself virtually any flight operation while up at Tru ProFlight. An instructor was also available to answer questions, or put me through challenging scenarios in the FTD. One of the great features of the NextGen is that it utilizes much of the same software that is used in the full motion Level D sims with full control feel. In this way a flight in the FTD closely resembles one in the Level D. After some time in the NextGen, the simulator sessions now started.

Chuck Hosmer was my instructor for 2 of the 3 hour sessions. No matter how much you fly, you still learn from flying the sim. Each sim session is preceded with a thorough briefing on the scenario for the session. Tru ProFlight changes the scenarios periodically, which makes it more interesting.

Our first sim session at first seemed easy – depart Aspen-Pitkin County (KASE) and fly to Colorado Springs (KCOS). A short, relaxing, flight in the CJ3 – in normal condition. Then I remembered that nothing is easy in the sim! My instructor had planned a few challenges along the way. The weather at KASE was:

KASE 091255Z 33015KT 2SM -SHRA OVC008 25/10 A3032

Even before starting the engines the ATIS indicated that the crosswind starting limit for the CJ3 (10 KTS) would be exceeded, so first I had to request a tug to turn us into the wind. Exceeding the crosswind or tailwind limits can result in a hot start, exceeding the Interturbine Temperatures (ITT) maximums.

Once that was resolved, I completed the systems check  only to find out that my brake anti-skid system was inoperative. A quick call to maintenance (my instructor) resolved the issue and we continued. The KASE weather was IFR which required flying the LINDZ 8 Departure (SID), which was uneventful, but fun flying IFR through the mountains. Cruising over the Rockies my autopilot failed. After going through the Abnormal Checklist for that failure, I could not resolve the problem so it was up to me to fly to KCOS and do the approach.

On the way to KCOS, the ATIS informed me that the glideslope was inoperative on the RWY 35L ILS, the approach I was assigned. Since the weather at KCOS was a ceiling of 400 feet overcast and 1 mile visibility which was below the Minimum Descent Altitude (MDA) for the Localizer, missed approach was probable — my first clue! I didn’t seed the runway at minimums, so it was on to a missed approach. Pickle (Go Around pushed) , Power, Pitch, flaps to approach, gear up at positive rate of climb, FMS set, flaps up at V2+10. All of which occurred quickly.

On the missed approach, I was diverted to my alternate – Denver International (KDEN) and my autopilot miraculously started working! Denver was a good alternate, however the visibility was reported as 1/2 mile, with rain and low overcast of 200 feet. Another clue! The flight to Denver was short and just when I was about to relax, I had an engine fire on the left engine. I had used the LMS to study engine fire procedures, which also included an interactive lesson animating a fire sequence.

Citation recurrent training LMS engine fire lesson
LMS engine fire lesson

In the sim, my first clue was the left engine fire warning light with concurrent loss of engine oil, fuel, and hydraulic pressure as well as failure of the generator.

CJ3 left engine fire
CJ3 left engine fire

Once I confirmed the fire, then secured the engine by pressing the LH ENG Fire light which also closes the fuel and hydraulic valves for that engine and arms the fire extinguisher. After activating the fire extinguisher and completing the checklist – it was back to the ‘usual’. As always, the most important thing to remember if to ‘Fly the Airplane’. A single engine approach in the CJ3 is not difficult as long as you follow the Checklist – flaps set to approach (15 degrees), fly the approach at Vap (approach speed – approximately 8 KTS above Vref), which requires an approximate power setting of 55-60% N1.

Always Assume a Missed Approach

I’m always prepared for a missed approach – VFR or IFR. Possibly the only tricky part flying on one engine is a single engine missed (or takeoff), since you have so much asymmetric thrust which is assisted by the rudder bias system. Another clue! Of course I had to do a single engine missed since an airplane had taxied past the hold line just before I was to land. The missed sequence is Pickle (push the go around button), Power forward, Pitch up – all simultaneously. The flaps are confirmed to be in the approach mode only, gear up at positive rate, set or confirm FMS for the missed, and use a lot of rudder to keep the plane straight. Once you are at a safe altitude, your airspeed at V2 + 10, the remaining flaps can be retracted. Simple!!

I then set up to do a single engine approach to 16R ILS which had better weather. Along the way the autopilot failed, so it was a hand flown single engine ILS to minimums. We had extra time after landing, so I did a VFR takeoff with both engines, for some simple pattern work. You get the picture – another clue! On downwind just before I was going to deploy the flaps – the flaps somehow failed. Slowing down a jet without flaps, or speed brakes (if they also fail) is not easy. You must immediately reduce power and let the plane slow down. When I had practiced it earlier, I was way to fast and it is almost impossible to slow down the jet if you are too fast. Without flaps the approach speed is faster, and of course the required landing distance is substantially greater. The landing distance is also increased if the speed brakes are also inoperative. If you have full hydraulic failure, the gear will also not extend normally – but with everything else happening this is a minor inconvenience since the manual extension is simple. The visuals on the Proflight sim (built by Tru Simulation) are outstanding. Here is an example of a VFR approach at one of the airports I ‘flew’ into during training.

On final at Memphis in the CJ3 Citation recurrent training simulator
On final at Memphis in the CJ3 simulator – beautiful VFR day

Windshear ! Windshear ! Windshear !

After landing, we still had time, so it was off on a departure into significant windshear with the Proline 21 system announcing something I already knew 🙂 One trick I use is to rotate at a slightly higher speed if I suspect windshear or gusts and might also consider a no flap takeoff if runway length permits. When encountering the windshear, I pitched up to almost the stick pusher and didn’t change the aircraft configuration. It is tempting to change the flaps, if deployed, and it usually isn’t a good idea! The CJ3 is very powerful and while the takeoff was turbulent and the verbal annunciators were warning ‘Windshear’ we were able to finally make it above the critical phase.

After a landing, with all of the systems working (a surprise) it was time for the debrief. Nearly 3 hours had passed in the sim, and it seemed we were only in there a fraction of the time. The debrief is extremely useful, reviewing what I did correctly and also to identify areas for improvement.

Finishing Up

My next sim session was full of activity. Early on in the session I did the required air work: steep turns, stalls – including high altitude at FL450, emergency descents. Also added for variety was PFD failures, then an IFR approach to Memphis (KMEM). Since we can compress a lot of training in the session, we followed with a brake failure on takeoff, low visibility taxi using SMGCS.

Just when everything was going smoothly, with just a few emergencies. I did another takeoff with an engine failure at V1 (decision speed). As with the single engine missed approach, the challenge is using enough compensating rudder. Once you remember that, then it is almost easy to fly the plane! Actually it is a lot of work, but then that is why we train, and train some more.

Proficiency Check

For the 61.58 requirements, you can either do a progressive check where the required tasks are spread out over 2 or 3 sim sessions, or elect to do a single check session. I elected the later at Tru ProFlight to give me more time to prepare.

This check was done with Chris Clevering, one of the Tru ProFlight designated examiners. While similar to the type rating check ride, it is a little more relaxed – at least for me. Chris did an excellent briefing, evaluating my system knowledge as well as my comprehension about operating procedures. It was then into the simulator to spend another few hours crammed full of airwork, emergencies, and even some ‘normal’ flying. After flying some much time dealing with abnormal events, it was odd sometimes to fly an airplane with all of the systems working!!

After the 2 simulator sessions, the evaluation was basically a review of what I had learned – a lot of single engine flying, systems failures, and low visibility operations. Just to end on a high note – I had a departure in windshear and after recovering from that, a dual hydraulic failure, with a resultant manual gear extension, and of course flap failure to a full stop. All in all, a very robust Citation recurrent training program designed to keep you safe.

Train Like You Fly and Fly Like You Train

It is so important to continue flight training, that it should be ingrained in every pilot’s psyche! I cannot stress this enough. With almost 10,000 flight hours I never fail to learn something new (or improve my skills) when I train. It makes you a better pilot, keeps your mind sharp, and is just plain fun. The day I no longer train is the day I will stop flying (which I hope will be a very, very long time from now).

Floats in Alaska! The Ultimate Flying Adventure

If you haven’t thought about adding a Seaplane rating to your license, you should!   I’ve considered it for years, however it wasn’t until this summer, 2014, that I put my plan in place.  My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner!  On the other hand, if I had then I probably would only be flying Float planes!

While up in Alaska  for the Iditarod  earlier this year –  Flying in Alaska – I explored options for obtaining my rating in our northernmost state.  This summer I was flying back up to Alaska in the CJ3 and had enough time to obtain the rating.  I found many good options for the course, however Alaska Floats & Ski owned by Don Lee looked like the best course.  They offer many packages, including one with lodging, which worked great for my needs.  I wanted to be as close as possible to the planes! Don’s Alaska Floats & Ski is located on  beautiful Christiansen Seaplane Base (AK8).

Alaska Floats & Ski - Christiansen Seaplane Base
Alaska Floats & Ski – Christiansen Seaplane Base

Located only a few miles from Talkeetna Airport (PATK) and the adjacent town, it is a spectacular location.  Talkeetna is about 2.5 hours from Anchorage on the Parks Highway, and 2.5 hours from Denali Park.  One of the great things about having a plane in Talkeetna, is you can fly to Denali in only 40 minutes in the PA-22 (Pacer) for an incredible view (more later).

I arrived at Don’s place on Monday morning and Lindsay, the Office Manager, quickly greeted me at their FBO.

Alaska Floats & Ski FBO - Lindsay the Office Manager
Alaska Floats & Ski FBO – Lindsay the Office Manager

Lindsay showed my their lodge and  let me choose between the Cessna and Piper rooms.  It was a tough choice!  The rooms are very nice, with a kitchen in the lodge if you want to prepare your own meals.  The lodge is only a few steps from the dock.  When I wasn’t flying, or sleeping I could be found studying, or writing, by the dock – even if it was raining.  Even at 11 p.m. I would be sitting by the dock enjoying the almost endless daylight.

Ground school with my CFI - Roger Anderson
Ground school with my CFI – Roger Anderson

Alaska Floats & Ski has a number of aircraft for their bush and float courses, some of which are converted to skis for the winter.  They typically fly Piper Pacers (PA-22) in their programs.  Here are some of their fleet, with the bush planes kept at the Talkeetna airport.

Alaska Float & Ski Float Plane Fleet
Alaska Float & Ski Float Plane Fleet
N7150K - Taxiing In at AK8
N7150K – Taxiing In at AK8

My primary training platform was N7347D, a very nice PA-22/20S.  With the floats, it took some time to get used to using more rudder than I’ve used in land planes.  It reminded me of sailplanes, which are also more sensitive to rudder input.  Once you get accustomed to that, it becomes second nature.

N7347D - My training platform
N7347D – My training platform

Don has a very welcoming staff, with a number of CFIs, all of whom have extensive experience across the fleet.  Don and Roger are also A&Ps, and their maintenance hangar is adjacent to the dock.  Sometimes after flying, we would sit by the dock and have beers — at ‘ramp temperature’.

Don and the gang

Seaplane Flights

We started ground school just after I arrived, then Roger and I started flying that same afternoon, taking my first flight in a Piper Pacer, let alone a float plane.  After donning a life vest, I learned that you want to have the plane ready to start the minute you are cast off from the dock – you don’t want to be drifting in a powerless plane in the lake. We started off by learning to taxi – without brakes!  The floats have very small water rudders which are somewhat effective if you are moving. We taxied to the north end of Christiansen Lake – which was fun by itself, watching the water go by with my door open.

Taxiing for Takeoff - view from my cockpit window
Taxiing for Takeoff – view from my cockpit window

The water rudders on the floats are only down when taxiing at idle or using the Plough technique, otherwise they are up.   The trick is to make a 180 degree turn and have the water rudders up by the time you are straight for takeoff.  Too early in the turn, and your can’t turn, too late and you are busy with other takeoff items.  With enough turning momentum you can raise the water rudders by 135 degrees, then add power and you are ready to go when lined up.

With full power, 10 degrees of flaps, and full back elevator we accelerate, albeit slowly.  As you accelerate the back elevator is gradually reduced until the plane settles ‘on the step’.  The step planing position is when the airplane is on the mid point of the floats and has the optimum, smallest, contact point with the water.  It took me some time to actually feel when that attitude is obtained.  Once there your elevator pressure is almost neutral and you wait to build up speed to attempt lift off around 50 MPH.

We had a smooth (glassy) surface which is actually more challenging than a rough water surface since the surface tension wants to keep the floats on the water.  One way to accelerate the process is to pull the plane onto one float – reducing the drag. Roger taught me to bump the flaps up, just a little and turn the ailerons to life a float.  Presto!  We are airborne – looking at the trees at the end of the lake.  I took advantage of the lower terrain on the left end by turning the airplane just over the water as I climbed.

In the photo we took off from the far right, then followed the lake to the upper left on the first departure.  The lodge and dock on the the far side in the middle. What a thrill!

Christiansen Lake Seaplane Base Alaska - AK8
Christiansen Lake Seaplane Base AK8

We headed to a series of lakes, the first being Rockys Lakes.  You always assess the landing area, including the winds, before landing.  Without an ASOS or even a wind sock, you are dependent upon your own observations. If there is wind, the upwind portion of the lake will be smooth – in the wind shadow.  Ripples will start to form around 2 knots, and waves at 4 kts.  As the lakes increase in size, the waves also get larger farther downwind.  All things to consider, including trees which surround most of the lakes I used!

Splash-n-Gos Getting My Seaplane Rating

Roger did a great job preparing for my first wet landing.  After assessing the first lake, I established a pattern and slowly decelerated to 80 MPH, flaps at 10 degrees. (G)as (U)ndercarraige – floats down and gear up (for amphibs) (M)ixture (P)ower (throttle, carb heat test).  Usually when water is on the runway, I’m considering hydroplaning – this time I’m landing in water.

Rockys Lake
Rockys Lake

I was glad that Roger picked a big lake for the first landing. Our goal was to land over the small peninsula just forward of the strut, a low lying area of marsh. The wind was light which made it nice, however the surface was fairly smooth which also removes some of the visual clues.  When setting up for landing on water, you don’t flare but attain a landing attitude which is close to level.

My first touch down was a bit rough and the pitch was a little low, so we ended up with a bow wave in front of the float.  The lift off was quick, since the bow wave reduces the surface tension and up we went.  I love touch-n-gos and the opportunity to do a large number of splash-n-gos was awesome!

We then practiced glassy landings, one of the most challenging landings.  When the surface is glassy, or you have reduced visibility, it is difficult to ascertain your height above the water.  The trick is to choose a visual reference (trees, grass, etc.) before you fly over the water.  At that point you set your final landing attitude.  The altitude above the water, is now totally controlled by power — with the landing attitude constant.  You must avoid looking at the water below and instead focus out in the distance.  You no longer have your side visual references. Surprise!!! You landed.  Roger said every glassy landing is a surprise.  On one landing I was so close to the marsh on final, that I landed on it then slide onto the water!  It was a very smooth landing in the water.

Next was confined landings over trees.  Similar to a short-field landing on a runway, you come over the trees on a steep approach with 30 degrees of flaps, round out to the landing attitude then – Splash!  It was more fun than any short field landing I’ve ever done.

Ten landings later, we headed to Fish Lake on the way back to base. Before landing at Fish Lake we saw perhaps the tallest structure out side of Anchorage!  It appeared that the owner was never satisfied with the view from their house, so they kept building another level!  I hope my wife doesn’t want me to do the same thing to our house —- it would take time from flying.

When a View is Really Important
When a View is Really Important

On the way back to AK8 we practiced on Fish Lake, which is just a few miles from our base.  It has a nice approach over the road to Talkeetna, then over the trees.

Fish Lake - Short Final
Fish Lake – Short Final

In the evening, which is still daylight since the sun didn’t set until almost midnight,  Roger and I decided to explore some mountain lakes – Rainbow, Sockeye, and Pineapple Man.  All of them are beautiful, with Pineapple Man offering some challenges since it is in a valley and on approach you can’t see the lake until you are almost over it.  Roger taught me to use ‘lead-in’ lakes, flying over the first, then turn left 80 degrees for the second, then finally seeing Pineapple Man after passing the second lake.  Since the lake has some large rocks, you fly over it for 1/2 mile, then turn right and Splash!

These lakes became my favorites, the location in the mountains and unique challenges made for fun landings.  Over 2 flights we made a large number of landings, many of which were on glassy surfaces.  On Rainbow, it was so calm that even on multiple Splash-n-Gos I could still see my wake.  We also practiced step taxiing and that wake also remained for several minutes.

My Wakes at Rainbow Lake
You can see the wakes from the step taxi and two previous landings


Talkeetna is a quaint town, just a few minutes from Alaska Floats & Ski.  It is only a few blocks long, and is worth the visit.  There are various places to stay, shop, and eat.  One of my favorites is the Wildflower Cafe, offering some of the best meals in Alaska.  You will find many other options in the town, including homemade ice cream!

Homemade Ice Cream at Wake and Shake - Talkeetna
Homemade Ice Cream at Wake and Shake – Talkeetna


Side Flight – Denali Glacier

Roger signed me off for my checkride after our third flight, however I wanted to fly more.  We decided to fly up the Kahlitna Glacier which is the largest glacier in the Alaska Range, land at a few lakes on the way back, then fly down the Chitna River back to base.  We lashed fishing poles to the wing struts, just in case we wanted to fish on one of the lakes.  Denali was obscured in clouds, however the flight up the glacier was still spectacular.  Flying under the clouds, we explored all the way up to the base of Denali, and could see Mount Foraker (17,402) above us.  The glacier is covered with mountain debris on the lower sections, the result of extensive erosion by the moving ice.  Flying low over the glacier we could view the deep glacier blue water in small pools.  Along the way we viewed extensive ice falls, and flew up over the base camp used at the base of Denali for the climbers.

Flying Up the Glacier - Fishing Poles Ready
Flying up the Kahlitna Glacier – fishing poles ready
Kahlitna Glacier
Kahlitna Glacier
Mt. Foraker - AK
Mt. Foraker – AK

The Checkride

Now was the time to prove to the FAA that I could fly float planes.  Ray Hodges, was the FAA-designated examiner.  Ray owns his own float plane (PA-12) and flew up from Palmer to administer the examination.  Ray immediately put me at ease, then presented me with a 6 page written test.  The items dealt with aerodynamics, FAA regulations, and general knowledge on how to safely operate sea planes.  I had studied over the previous 2 days with material provided by Roger, which did a great job of preparing me for the check ride.  The ground portion of our check ride took a bit over 2  1/2 hours, then it was off to demonstrate my skills in accordance with the Practical Test Standards (PTS).  We flew over to Larsen Lake, close by to AK8.  The surface was calm, so most of my landing were made using the glassy techniques.  The check ride included various maneuvers including: step turns, plough turns, high altitude operations, constrained (short) operations, glassy landings, and a few others. Since Roger had thoroughly prepared me for the test, it was not a surprise.

Larson Lake - Checkride Central
Larson Lake – Checkride Central

It was great landing back at AK8 and then Ray told me I had passed and now was a Commercial Single Engine Seaplane pilot!

Rich and Ray Hodges DPE with SES
Rich and Ray Hodges DPE with SES


Right after receiving my new rating, I wanted to fly again.  I talked with Don Lee and I wanted to explore the Susitna River.  With the recent rains it was moving fast with the high water and looked like a challenge. Don taught me how to determine the best landing option, especially with downed trees in the river, and taxiing in the moving river up to the shore for beaching.  It was interesting landing in such fast moving water, an opportunity I didn’t want to miss.  Don is an excellent CFI, with considerable experience and I realized I only touched the surface of this great opportunity to fly a float plane.

After arriving back in Anchorage, the first thing I did was go looking for another float plane to fly!  I scoured the Lake Hood Seaplane Base (PALH), the largest in the world, and found a Super Cub to rent with a CFI.  Richard Whyte at Acme Cub Training was available, so we went up to explore lakes north of Anchorage.  PALH has both water runways, and runways.  It is directly adjacent to Anchorage International Airport and it is an experience not to be missed.  You are flying float planes in the pattern, watching 747s landing nearby.

Super Cub - getting ready to launch from the dock
Super Cub – getting ready to launch from the dock

The Super Cub flies differently than the Pacer, and has 20 additional horse power.   Landing is very similar with minor changes in landing attitude.  I had never flown a Super Cub, yet the training I had received helped in flying that aircraft.  After an hour and half, it was time to head back to Anchorage.

Flying float planes is an incredible experience, and I recommend it highly. You can’t beat Alaska for the variety of lakes to explore and Alaska Floats & Ski provide a great opportunity to explore those lakes.

One caveat, once you fly on floats you might get hooked!  I’m now finding myself looking in Controller for Lake Amphibians  —  just looking of course 🙂


Citation CJ3 Type Rating

ProFlight Citation CJ3 Simulator Personal Wings

I enjoy flight training, whether as a CFI for over 35 years or as a student. I always learn from the experiences, and believe we can always improve our piloting skills.  After obtaining 5 jet ratings, I thought what the heck, time to add another one. My Aero Vodochody L-29 and L-39 (AV-L29, AV-L39) ratings are defined as Experimental Authorizations by the FAA, a term used for large vintage and experimental turbine aircraft which require special checkrides and approvals.  The EA-500S (Eclipse 500), CE-500 (Cessna Citation 500 series) and CE-510S (Cessna Mustang Single Pilot) are type ratings, required for certified large piston (> 12,500 lbs) and all turbojet aircraft.  In many countries outside of the U.S. a type rating is even required for smaller piston-powered aircraft such as the Piper Malibu series (PA-46) .

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Adding the Cessna Citation 525 series of jets to my license seemed like a great idea. The Citation 525 (CE-525) includes: Citation Jet, CJ1, CJ1+, CJ2, CJ2+, CJ3,  CJ4, and the newest 525 – the M2.  The ‘+’ indicates the CJ1 or CJ2 model incorporates FADEC – Full Authority Digital Engine Control, which is included standard in the CJ3, CJ4, and the M2.

Citation CE-525 Type Rating

A type rating can be obtained under FAA Part 61 or Part 142.  Part 61 generally involves flight training and checkride in the aircraft.  Part 142 approved programs use full motion simulators (Level C and D) which are so capable,  you can log time and take your checkride in the devices, just as if you were flying the airplane.   My goal was to obtain the Single Pilot type rating – CE-525S. In previous type ratings, I’ve obtained 4 (L29, L39, CE-500, CE-510S) under Part 61 and 1(EA-500S) utilizing a Part 142 course. For the CE-525S I chose Part 142, and researched a variety of offerings from Flight Safety and CAE Simuflite to newer entrants in the market.

One of the newest centers is Proflight, LLCt , just north of my San Diego home in Carlsbad CA. (Update 2014 – Proflight was acquired by Textron Aviation and is now part of their new division Tru Simulation + Training – )

Visiting Proflight, I was impressed by their training methods, and curriculum.  Proflight has been doing Cessna Conquest  training for many years, and their new jet program focuses on the CE-525 series with a CJ3 Sim, which was also a bonus for me. It was clearly ahead more traditional schools, using the latest Learning Management Systems (LMS) and an extremely high fidelity Level D CJ3 simulator. Officially the course is 17 days, with two Sundays off.  In actuality, you start the learning process before even setting foot in the classroom the first day.  I started studying at least 2 weeks before, using information provided by Proflight and other resources.  Proflight does an excellent job by offering an online LMS that takes the student through 16 modules, from pre-flight inspection to detailed systems in pneumatics, power plant, hydraulics and more.   Along the way you answer nearly 200 questions on quizzes to check your knowledge uptake!  The proverbial firehose of information was aimed directly at me, and while intense, it was a blast.

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For those pilots who were attending a jet course for their first type rating, the FAA would only allow the issuance of a crew rating (CE-525) if the checkride is done in the simulator.  The only way to bypass this limitation is for them to do the checkride in the actual aircraft. Since I have a few others, my checkride in the sim would be for a Single Pilot rating (CE-525S).


Every day we had at least 4 hours of presentations, either new material or review of what we had learned earlier in the LMS.  Building upon our previous completion of the LMS, Chris Clevering was our primary instructor.  Chris’ systems knowledge is encyclopedic, and practical, so it was extremely thorough and the time passed quickly.  Proflight uses a guided instruction method, utilizing high quality animations which we could then activate under normal or abnormal operations.  My review with Dave Love the second week helped to cement the knowledge in conjunction with our simulator sessions.

Situational and Systems Integration

Proflight takes extensive advantage of their non-motion Flight Training Devices (FTD) for the ground training.  Proflight utilizes a very powerful Next Gen CJ3 trainer as well as a fixed Level 6 CJ3 simulator, all of which are built by Opinicus. For the first 7 days we ‘flew’ the FTDs.  For 3-4 hours each day my training partner and I would brief, then fly scenarios that included full checklist reviews as well as all aspects of flight. The Next Generation trainer is a FTD that uses high resolution screens to represent the cockpit instrumental panel, and actual throttles and FMS (Flight Management System) keyboards.  The visuals, while not the same as the Level 6 or Level D, are outstanding.

Chuck Hosmer, a Proflight instructor, flying the Next Gen CJ3 FTD
Chuck Hosmer, a Proflight instructor, flying the Next Gen CJ3 FTD

The Level 6 FTD is a non-motion version of the Level D simulator, with a full cockpit replication.  The wrap around visuals provide a totally immersive experience.

CJ3 Level 6 Cockpit
CJ3 Level 6 FTD Cockpit

Just to keep us on our toes, every session included numerous emergencies ranging from aborted takeoffs, engine fires, hydraulic failures, explosive decompression, to icing and wind shear.  Our instructors would incorporate these events just when we thought it was time to relax!  While these were non-motion devices, you forgot that aspect when confronted with failed engines, ice induced stalls, and no-flap landings.  These were excellent experiences to prepare for the full-motion simulators. Frequently I would stay after the class for a few more hours to use the FTDs.  It was great being able to easily repeat certain aspects of training.  After one of the classes I was flying our Cirrus SR22  from Montgomery (MYF) to Los Angeles (LAX)  to pick up a friend, I used the FTD to pre-fly the route just to get familiar again with the procedures.

Motion — at last!

Proflight Level D CJ3 Sim
Proflight Level D CJ3 Sim with Fixed Level 6 Sim in back

On day 9, my instructor Tom Wood and I headed for the first official motion sim flight in the Level D CJ3 simulator.  The beauty of using the other Proflight FTDs, is that they all use the same control software so the transition was easy.   We had practiced many of the same operations before entering the Level D, so it made the transition much easier than using more traditional methods. For the next 6 days, either Tom Wood or Dave Love would serve as my instructors, subjecting me to a wide variety of scenarios with an assortment of emergencies.

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Holding in position on Runway 18R at Memphis (MEM)
Holding in position on Runway 18R at Memphis (MEM)

One of the new FAA training requirements is a stall on the auto pilot while above FL410.  The  aerodynamics at high altitude are substantially different than lower and it takes more altitude to recover. The aircraft was more sensitive to control inputs and to a secondary stallI and I was able to recover with an altitude loss of 500 feet. Each session would build on the experience of the earlier ones.  After each 3 hour sim session, we would analyze our flight then head to the classroom for a few hours of systems review.  The days were long, however it was a blast!

The Day

It was now time for the type rating oral exam and checkride, which reminded me of my graduate school thesis defense, except a lot more fun! Early at 7 a.m. on day 17, I met my Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) Russ Defrancesco for the ground portion of my test.   Russ did a great job explaining the process and putting me at ease.  As the FAA evaluator, he is not there to conduct any instruction but rather to assess my potential ability to operate as PIC of a 14,000 pound jet airplane using ATP standards. The oral exam is just not a recital of the limitations (over 120) and abnormal checklist memory items (20), but scenario-based questions that thoroughly probed my knowledge of systems and the inter relationships.

For example: If the bleed air overheat annunciator illuminates, what might be the issue, how does the bleed air system operate, and how do you respond to the issue in flight?

The bleed air is hot air that is extracted from the high-pressure compressor to operate various systems. The highest temperature air is used by engine anti-ice, then cooled some for the wing and windshield anti-ice, then cooled further for pressurization (normal and emergency), pneumatic controllers, rudder bias, and tail deice boots.  It initially leaves the engine at nearly 1000oF, then passes through heat exchanges/coolers that lower the temperature for the other systems.  It the annunciator illuminates it indicates the bleed air at one of the controllers is > 560oF. This may be caused by either a controller issue, bleed air leak, or high demand.  Using the Emergency/Abnormal Checklist, tells the pilot to reduce the affected throttle, if practical.

After 2 1/2 hours of similar questions and scenarios, it was time for the practical test in the CJ3 simulator. With few exceptions, the practical maneuvers would be in IFR conditions. Russ would act  as ATC during the flight, directing me to the next procedure and of course invoking all sorts of emergencies along the way!

After a low visibility taxi (1/4 sm in fog) on 18R at Memphis (MEM) I was cleared for take-off.  After moving the throttles to full takeoff thrust, the airplane accelerated through 70 KIAS, then WHAM!  I had lost an engine.  I completed the Rejected Takeoff (RTO) by retarding throttles, full braking, and speed brakes – then was electronically repositioned by Russ for another takeoff.  This one went smoothly, and I climbed to 10,000 MSL to start the air work.  After steep turns, unusual attitude recoveries, and a high altitude clean stall it was a rapid descent at 4,000 FPM to 2,500 MSL to complete the stall series. A great warm-up for what would follow.

The first landing was the easy one, an ILS 27 with a circle to 18R, all of course at minimums. Cleared for my next takeoff, I accelerated, confirmed the instruments, at 97 KIAS announced V1 (decision speed) and then WHAM!  I had lost the right engine  and had to continue the takeoff, rotating at Vr – 100 KIAS. With 2780 lbs of asymmetric thrust at takeoff it takes full rudder to keep the plane going straight. After gear up, I confirmed I was climbing at V2 – 110 KIAS, then continued the climb to a safe altitude (1500 AGL) and accelerated to V2+10 before retracting flaps. After telling ATC I had lost an engine, and following the checklist, I asked for a vector back to MEM. ATC obliged with a ILS 27, however the weather was worsening and might be below minimums shortly. With only one engine you increase the Vref  by 10 knots  for the final approach.  For our weight, the new Vref would be 113 KIAS.  After configuring the plane, the approach was perfect — except for the weather.  At minimums, I had to execute a missed approach and it was full rudder again!  Of course, the missed approach had to include a hold, with a single engine operating.  While in holding ATC notified me that perhaps my failed engine was okay, and try a re-start.  Remarkably it worked!

For two more hours, I encountered an engine fire, failed PFD, failed Auto Pilot (twice), wind shear, hydraulic failure, brake failure, gear extension failure, missed approaches, and finally we ended with  a no-flap landing. After completing some paperwork, with a fresh CE-525S type rating it hand, it felt good to have completed such a rigorous training program.  The folks at Proflight did an excellent job, not just training for the type rating, but using practical flight scenarios that will be useful when flying the Citation.  Hopefully I won’t encounter as many emergencies in the real aircraft!

Training is Never Over

As pilots we know that we should always be training, and turbine aircraft are no exception.  One of the reasons that there are fewer accidents in turbines, especially jets, is the rigorous requirements for both the initial rating and recurrent training.  In order to act as PIC of a jet after obtaining the type rating you must have had a valid proficiency check (FAR 61.58). The 61.58 check must be completed in that make and model every 12 months, unless you fly multiple jets, in which case you can alternate between 2 of them every 24 months. Even if you don’t fly turbines, you still need to manage the risk of flying.  It is important to participate in frequent training, not just to keep current under the minimum FAA requirements, but also to take scenario-based instruction and practice a variety of emergencies.  Having flown over 8500 hours, and visited 700 airports, and encountered several in-flight emergencies I know first hand that you simply can’t train for everything, however preparing for the inevitable is valuable.

Update – 2014

In 2014 True Simulation + Training, a Textron company, acquired ProFlight.  Textron which also owns Cessna and  Hawker Beechcraft expects to offer additional training opportunities through ProFlight and their simulator acquisitions, Opinicus (who makes the ProFlight sims) and Mechtronix.

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Professional flight training is essential for the safe operation of today’s high performance aircraft including:  Eclipse, Cirrus  SR22, Piper PA-46 ( Malibu, Mirage, and Meridian), Aerostar, Pilatus PC-12 and others.  Insurance approved.  Cirrus SR22 rental aircraft also available.

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